Week 2-March 5-9, 2012
On Monday, of this my second week of student teaching, I was afforded the opportunity to learn from a substitute. She is the prodigy of my mentor-teacher and graduated from the Seattle Pacific University M.A.T. program just last year. It was great teaching alongside her and seeing how comfortable and at ease she was with the children and the flow of the daily classroom schedule. It allowed me to see that I, too, will feel more and more comfortable not only in the role of teacher but with the curriculum and schedule in the class as time moves on.
I continued this week to focus on third grade math and started to feel at ease and more effective in my mathematical teaching style. A common flow began to emerge in this small group as we continue to develop a pattern and routine for our math time together. As I only have nine students in this group they are easily manageable both during whole group instruction and individually as they work on mathematical concepts and strategies. I feel somewhat challenged by the pace of the curriculum but am optimistic that I will improve on pacing skills as the weeks unfold.
Science has been a tremendous focus for the class for that last two weeks and we worked hard to finish a science unit before the kit was due back to the district. Because of this intense focus, students were immersed in a unit that involved force and motion and did so with real enthusiasm. This unit utilized scientific concepts by applying them to a standard vehicle and then to a vehicle design challenge. The vehicle design challenge enabled students to meet specific requirements and design a vehicle accordingly. The students loved this. They applied their learned scientific concepts as they related to force and motion to develop their group challenge vehicles. They were forced to work together to designs, test, and redesign, if necessary, their vehicles to complete this challenge. The students were excited about science and it was fun to see them making the scientific connections from the unit and working together cooperatively to complete the challenge.
This week also brought the real opportunity for discipline. My “newness” as the student-teacher was being tested by many of the students and because of this I was forced to start utilizing the tools that have already been set up in the classroom for management. One such “test” resulted in a student challenging me and then continuing to challenge the systems in place for disciple. This student put up such a fight that the student was sent home from school for the rest of the day. I was involved in a meeting with the counselor, my mentor teacher, the student, and the mother to discuss what happened. We discussed what actions led to the discipline and developed a plan to support the student’s opportunity to make better decisions/choices in the future. Additionally, I had to send three other students to “catch-up club” for incomplete assignments and not turning in work. The honeymoon is over for the students. The students now understand that I expect them to behave and participate in the same fashion as their teacher and that I will response to their behavior accordingly.
All in all week two provided me with challenging opportunities that forced me to examine my personal teaching style and adopt the necessary skills specific to my mentor teacher’s classroom style. Each week seems to teach me a completely different lesson. The first week was flexibility. This week the lesson I learned was classroom discipline and follow through for behavior management techniques. I acknowledge that this will be different wherever I end up teaching but that I will need to have some hard and fast rules that I stick by regardless of my location. So far, solving problems, making good decisions and being respectful seem to be three that I see myself using often and supporting for both academic and social growth of my future students.